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Things to do with the kids this autumn!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
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This autumn, there are hundreds of exciting events taking place across the UK that are perfect for a family day out. Autumn is a wonderful time to get out and about; organisations such as the Woodland Trust and the National Trust are working hard to ensure that we make the most of this spectacular season by holding some fantastic events aimed at families. We’ve had a look at the activities on offer and listed a few of our favourites below.

Children’s red squirrel walks

Red Squirrel

Via Flickr

This October half term, Brownsea Island in Dorset is playing host to several children’s red squirrel walks. This island wildlife sanctuary in Poole Harbour is owned by the National Trust and is home to not only the red squirrel but also a host of different kinds of bird including the kingfisher and the dunlin. Children will love the guided woodland red squirrel walks, which will give them a chance to spot these rare creatures and learn more about their natural habitat. The red squirrel walks are taking place from 26th- 29th October, for more information please see the National Trust website.

Into the wild bushcraft activity day

Woodland

Via Flickr

On 25th October, Brede High Woods in East Sussex are holding a family bushcraft activity day, which is sure to be a fantastic day out and lots of fun for all the family! Located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Brede High Woods is full of diverse wildlife and a mix of ancient and secondary woodland, making it a wonderful place to spend the day. The family activity day will teach visitors how to light a fire, build a shelter, forage and identify plants. What’s even better is that the event is completely free, although booking is essential so make sure you visit the Woodland Trust website for more information.

Make a home for a wild animal

Bats

Via Flickr

Does your children love animals? If so, then make sure you take them down to Trerice in Cornwall on 28th October, where they can take part in building a bat box to put in their garden! This stunning Elizabethan manor house on the Cornish coast provides the perfect backdrop for this creative activity for young animal-lovers and by taking part, kids will also be able to tick number 36 off their National Trust ’50 Things to do Before You’re 11 ¾’. See the National Trust website for details.

Don’t miss out on our autumn sale!

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Stable Cottage, Shropshire, Ref. 14117

If you’re planning a UK holiday this autumn then make sure you check out our fantastic autumn sale. With hundreds of cottages offering discounts of up to 20%, you’re sure to bag a bargain on your getaway!

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Five Ways to Make Your Holiday Cottage Stand Out

Friday, September 26th, 2014
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Here at Sykes, we know a thing or two about holiday cottages and we know that one of the most important things to consider when you own a cottage is how to make yours stand out from the thousands of others that are out there. Below, you’ll find five tried-and-tested ways to make the most of your property and ensure that you attract as many bookings as possible!

1. Have great pictures

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Barleycorn Cottage, Shropshire, Ref. 27007

Pictures play an important role when guests are choosing a holiday cottage, and so you want to make your cottage look as appealing as possible. If you’re signing up with Sykes Cottages, a specialist member of our team will come out to take the pictures for you, and will be on hand to advise you on how best to show off your property. However, there are a few things that you can do to prepare your cottage before our team member arrives. Complete a thorough clean of your property and make sure that the garden is looking neat. Make the most of any stand-out features that you have; ensure that your log fire is lit and burning brightly, your hot tub is bubbling away and your swimming pool is uncovered and clean. Finally, buy a bunch of flowers to brighten up rooms instantly!

2. Provide a welcome pack

Holiday cottage on Anglesey

Carreg Rhys, Anglesey, Ref. 24459

Something that we see time after time in our customers’ feedback is that guests REALLY appreciate welcome packs. Leaving tea, coffee, milk, sugar and biscuits are a fantastic idea – your guests may have travelled quite a distance to reach your cottage and this sort of thoughtfulness will go a long way. Other ideas include home-made cakes, a sample of a local delicacy, or a bottle of wine, all of which are sure to make your guests’ day and will help ensure that your property’s reviews stand out!

3. Know your market

Dog friendly

Via Flickr

One of the best ways to make your holiday rental stand out is to be aware of who stays in your property and cater to this. If your property is dog friendly, make sure you include information on where’s good to go for a walk and what pubs in the area are dog friendly. If you describe your cottage as child-friendly then why not provide cots, stairgates and high-chairs to give frazzled parents a helping hand; you could also include leaflets on days out for children in the area. If your cottage is more of a romantic retreat, consider making a list of nearby restaurants or leave a supply of cosy blankets in your property.

4. Invest in features that appear on customers’ wish-lists

Holiday cottage with a swimming pool

Rushmore Lodge, Kent, Ref. 16229

It’s easier said than done but one of the easiest ways to make your holiday cottage stand out is to invest in features that are high on customers’ wish-lists. It can be something as simple as WiFi or a dishwasher, which are always appreciated, and are facilities that are frequently requested by customers. More expensive features such as hot tubs and swimming pools are harder to install but will certainly guarantee that your property has an edge; cottages with hot tubs and swimming pools are certainly our most popular and they book up very quickly.

5. Don’t forget about the little things

Holiday cottage in Worcestershire

Lavender Cottage, Worcestershire, Ref. 21367

Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make the most difference but they can often be the easiest to forget! We’ve listed a few suggestions on how you can avoid this below:

  • Get the basics right. Make sure that you provide a generous amount of toilet roll, cleaning equipment and have plenty of crockery.
  • It’s always helpful to provide information on how to work the appliances in the property and how to start up any other features such hot tubs or open fires.
  • Providing a guest book is a great way to hear what your guests thought about their holiday cottage; what they loved and any feedback that they have. They can also leave recommendations on places to visit for future guests, something which is always very much appreciated.

If you want to know more about how you can make your holiday cottage stand out, or if you want to know more about letting your holiday rental with Sykes Cottages, then please visit our website or give our owner care team a call on 01244 356 666.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Sykes’ Spotlight on the English Riviera

Monday, September 15th, 2014
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Yesterday marked the beginning of Agatha Christie Week and the International Agatha Christie Festival. Agatha Christie, or the Queen of Crime as she’s often known, wrote 80 books during her lifetime and sold over 2 billion copies worldwide, outsold only by the Bible and William Shakespeare. Born in Torquay in 1890, Christie spent some of the most important chapters of her life in the English Riviera, so here at Sykes Cottages, we’re taking a look at this picturesque corner of the country, which influenced and inspired her writing for 85 years.

Agatha Christie’s Torquay

Torquay, English Riviera

Via Flickr

No fan of Agatha Christie can head to the English Riviera without paying a visit to Torquay, the pretty seaside town where Christie grew up. Torquay has long been considered one of the jewels of the south coast with its rows of palm trees, bustling marina and vibrant promenade. However, one of the reasons it’s most well-known is as the setting and inspiration for many of Christie’s novels; over 20 of her novels were set in and around Torquay. Christie also bought a holiday home here, which you can still visit today. Now owned by the National Trust, Greenway is open to visitors, who can experience it as it would have been in 1950s when Christie holidayed there.

Relaxed Coastal Towns & Café Culture

Brixham, English Riviera

Via Flickr

With its clear blue seas, palm trees and mild climate, you might be forgiven for thinking that you were abroad when holidaying in the English Riviera. The quaint harbours, cosmopolitan cafés and stunning beaches give this part of Devon an almost Mediterranean feel. Head to Torquay for fabulous Victorian architecture and waterside restaurants, whilst Brixham is ideal for lovers of all things marine-related; this bustling fishing town has been described as the “home of British fishing”, boasting a traditional harbour and many outstanding sea-food restaurants. If you’re looking for somewhere with a vibrant nightlife, then Paignton is a must-visit, with plenty of bars, restaurants and pubs for you to enjoy.

Days Out for Kids

Dartmouth Steam Railway

Via Flickr

It’s not just adults that will enjoy a holiday in the English Riviera as there are plenty of fantastic activities and events to keep the kids entertained too! Paignton Zoo is one of the south-west’s best days out and children will love discovering all of the animals they have to offer which include crocodiles, gorillas, elephants, lions and tigers. Another idea that’s sure to be popular with the kids is a trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which runs for seven miles from Paignton along the coastline to Kingswear; the journey can also be combined with a boat trip. Adults will enjoy the spectacular views and the old-fashioned steam train is sure to fascinate younger visitors.

Book a holiday cottage in the English Riviera

Holiday cottage in English Riviera

Bay View, Paignton, Ref. 30926

If you’re looking to holiday in this wonderful part of the country, or you’re visiting for the International Agatha Christie Festival, then make sure you take a look at our selection of self-catering cottages in the English Riviera. We have something to suit every budget so please get in touch by sending us an email or giving us a call on 01244 356 695.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Visit Heritage Open Days this Weekend!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
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From 11th- 14th September, Heritage Open Days are offering culture lovers the opportunity to visit interesting sites which are normally not accessible to the public, or that normally charge for admission, for free! This annual event, which is funded by the English Heritage, aims to celebrate the wealth of architecture and culture on offer in England and encourage us to discover what’s on our doorstep.

Young Explorers Heritage Fun Trail, Yorkshire

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Via Flickr

Taking place at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, the Young Explorers Heritage Fun Trail is a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids! The whole family will enjoy this self-guided trail around the park, taking in the wildlife, lakes and woodlands and learning more about the history surrounding them. The event is totally free and there’s no need to book, just grab a leaflet from the YSP Centre to take part and there’s also a chance to win a Young Explorer’s Goody Bag. This event is taking place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September, from 10am until 4pm. For more information, see the Heritage Open Days website for more information.

Guided Tour of Three Tuns Brewery, Shropshire

Pints of beer

Via Flickr

This weekend, you can take a tour of England’s oldest licensed brewery for free! Established in 1642, the Three Tuns Brewery in Bishops Castle is offering free guided tours on Saturday 13th September as part of Heritage Open Days 2014. This brewery offers a unique tour experience as it’s housed in a building steeped with history, including a miniature Victorian tower which was built around 1890. Tours take around an hour and a half and afterwards, why not visit the brewery’s own pub for a couple of pints and a bite to eat? Visit the Heritage Open Days website.

Four Castles Guided Walk, Northumberland

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

Via Flickr

On Friday 12th September, you can take part in a guided walk with David Barker around four of Northumberland’s most impressive structures. This 7.5 mile route will take all day and covers Chillingham Castle, Ros Castle, Hepburn Bastle and Hepburn Fort. This walk is not suitable for children and attendees are advised that it can be hilly and muddy in places. For more information about the event, click here.

Heritage Tours of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Warwickshire

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company

Via Flickr

This Sunday 14th September, Shakespeare fans can explore over 150 years of theatre heritage in Stratford-upon-Avon for free! Visitors to this event can learn more about the theatre techniques introduced to the RSC over 100 years ago, that are still used today; they can also discover more about the people behind the project and theatre architecture, from the local Georgian theatre to the Victorian Gothic Shakespeare Memorial theatre. Tours must be pre-booked, please see here for more information.

To find out more about all of the events taking place as part of Heritage Open Days, you can visit their website here. If you’re planning to travel to visit one of the Heritage Open Days then why not check out our cottages near English Heritage properties for a cosy, comfortable place to stay while you explore England’s impressive architecture and culture.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

A Look Back at the Highlights of Summer 2014

Monday, September 1st, 2014
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On the first day of September, here at Sykes Cottages, we’d just like to take the time to appreciate what a wonderful summer Britain has had this year. We’ve had our downs (Roy Hodgson and co, I’m looking at you) but all in all, the summer of 2014 has been fantastic; full of sporting success, cultural events and good weather! In celebration of this, we’ve put together a few of our top highlights of the summer.

Le Tour de France: Yorkshire Grand Départ

Le Tour de France Grand Depart

Via Flickr

One of the summer’s most anticipated events was the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire. The atmosphere across the country was electric as world-famous cyclists took to the roads of the Yorkshire Dales with thousands turning out to cheer them on along the route.

WW1 Centenary Events

World War One Memorial

Via Flickr

This year also marks 100 years since the beginning of World War One. Up and down the nation, there have been spectacular events, memorials and activities taking place to commemorate the anniversary and remember those who died in the war.

Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Via Flickr

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games have been one of our favourite events over the summer, not least because all of the home nations did so well! From the dancing tea cakes at the opening ceremony to Erraid Davies becoming the youngest ever Commonwealth medallist, we enjoyed every moment!

Hottest July on Record

Beach

Via Flickr

Although the weather hasn’t always been perfect this summer, we have had some beautiful weather and July was even declared to be one of the hottest months of July on record! Here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve also got our fingers crossed for  an Indian Summer!

The Open Championship

Rory McIlroy

Via Flickr

This year’s Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake was a huge success and even resulted in a British winner! With his win at the Open, Rory McIlroy joined the likes of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as one of the only golfers to win three majors by the age of 25.

UK Festivals

UK festival

Via Flickr

They may happen every year but the summer of 2014 has been a great time for festivals with some particularly memorable performances! From Dolly Parton at Glastonbury to Justin Timberlake at V Festival, there was a wide variety of artists showcasing their talents on the British festival scene this summer.

Summer 2014 has been full of highlights and if you can think of any that we’ve missed then we’d love to hear them! Get in touch and let us know via our Facebook page or via our Twitter.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.